Turning 65? Do You Know How to Enroll in Medicare?

With your 65th birthday around the corner, you are getting ready to celebrate another year of life. For many people who live in the United States, turning 65 means that you become eligible for Medicare benefits. While some individuals are automatically enrolled in Medicare on this landmark birthday, the vast majority of people aren’t.

Medicare will start automatically for you if you’ve received Railroad Retirement Benefits or Social Security Benefits for at least four months before your 65th birthday. If you fit either of these criteria and receive benefit checks, you’ll automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B.

If you don’t fit the above criteria, then you’ll have to enroll in Medicare on your 65th birthday.

When Can I Enroll?

There are three enrollment periods to sign up for Medicare: 

Initial Enrollment Period (IEP):

  • This is the first opportunity to enroll in Medicare.
  • It typically begins three months before your 65th birthday month, includes your birthday month, and extends for three months afterward.
  • If you’re eligible for Medicare due to a disability, your IEP starts during the 22nd through 28th month of receiving disability benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB).
  • During your IEP, you can sign up for Medicare Parts A and/or B.

General Enrollment Period (GEP):

  • The GEP occurs annually from January 1st through March 31st.
  • If you missed your IEP and aren’t eligible for a Special Enrollment Period, you can enroll in Medicare Parts A and/or B during the GEP.
  • Keep in mind that enrolling during the GEP may lead to late enrollment penalties or coverage delays.

Special Enrollment Period (SEP):

  • The SEP allows you to enroll in Medicare outside of the IEP or GEP if you meet specific criteria.
  • Common reasons for qualifying for an SEP include:
    • Losing employer-based health coverage (including retiree coverage).
    • Moving outside your current plan’s service area.
    • Qualifying for other types of insurance, like Medicaid.
    • Certain life events, such as marriage, divorce, or the death of a spouse.
  • You typically have an eight-month window to enroll in Medicare during a SEP, starting the month after your qualifying event.
  • It’s essential to act promptly during your SEP to avoid coverage gaps or penalties.

These enrollment periods ensure that you have opportunities to sign up for Medicare when you’re eligible and avoid penalties for late enrollment. It’s crucial to understand the timing and eligibility criteria for each period to make informed decisions about your healthcare coverage.

If you want to learn more about these enrollment periods, click here.

We Can Help You Enroll

If you’re ready to enroll in Medicare, there are several options available to you. You could apply online at www.ssa.gov, call the Social Security number at 800-772-1213, or visit your local Social Security office. 

However, navigating these options can be time-consuming and confusing, especially if you’re unsure of the answers to the questions you may be asked. Medicare consists of different components that can be challenging to grasp, and everyone’s circumstances are unique.

That’s where the Guided Solutions Medicare team comes in. If you need help deciding what’s best for you based on your preferences and resources, we’re here to assist.

Guided Solutions Medicare experts will take the time to understand your particular situation, guide you through informed decisions, and expedite the enrollment process for you.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us to get started. Start with an online assessment or find a local Medicare office and pay us a visit.

Additional Enrollment Tips and Resources

Here are some resources we’ve put together that can help you understand your options:


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